IBM Watson Now Powers A Hilton Hotel Robot Concierge

from ars technica Just arrived to your hotel, desperate for some munch at a decent restaurant nearby, and not really into speaking with human beings? Connie the robo-concierge is here to help. American hotel multinational Hilton has teamed up with tech giant IBM to trial a robotic concierge powered by IBM’s AI software Watson. The bot has been christened “Connie” after the chain’s founder, Conrad Hilton, and it is currently assisting residents at Hilton McLean hotel, in Virginia. From its station next to the reception desks, Connie helps guests navigate around the hotel and find restaurants or tourist attractions in the area—but it […]

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The War for Mobile Search

from Medium There’s a war being waged in mobile. A war to control the final lucrative frontier that will shape how mobile is monetized. The battle is for mobile search, and its outcome is uncertain. Today, mobile search is a wild landscape of competing and contradictory technologies, unfulfilled promises, and 800 pound gorillas strategically positioning themselves without any centralized regulation or governance. It should be no surprise that the war for search has gone mobile as people spend more and more time on their phones. In May 2015, Google confirmed that mobile search queries overtook desktop queries. By all indications this trend […]

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The Robots Are Coming for Wall Street

from NYTs When Daniel Nadler woke on Nov. 6, he had just enough time to pour himself a glass of orange juice and open his laptop before the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly employment report at 8:30 a.m. He sat at the kitchen table in his one-bedroom apartment in Chelsea, nervously refreshing his web browser — Command-R, Command-R, Command-R — as the software of his company, Kensho, scraped the data from the bureau’s website. Within two minutes, an automated Kensho analysis popped up on his screen: a brief overview, followed by 13 exhibits predicting the performance of investments based on their […]

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Five Ways Mobile Is Changing the World

from <RE/CODE> Mobile is about more than a device or platform. The combination of immediacy, personalization, scale and global reach mobile provides has democratized content, commerce and culture. It has given unlimited power to consumers who spend on average 11 hours per day on mobile devices. Those who view mobile as simply an extension of their advertising program are wrong. Mobile is becoming core to all consumer-brand efforts, both in terms of time spent with these devices and because they are home base for search and social media and, increasingly, all things video. For marketers, mobile is our industry’s greatest […]

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The 5 Biggest Reveals From Apple’s Motion To Dismiss The FBI’s Court Order

from Macworld On Thursday, Apple filed a motion to vacate the court order compelling the company to create a hackable version of iOS that the FBI can use to break into the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. In the filing, Apple’s main argument is that its software is protected speech, and that the government’s motion for Apple to fabricate software that contradicts its beliefs is a violation of its First and Fifth Amendment rights. We read through the 65-page filing, and spotted the following revelations.  More here.

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The Apple Case Will Grope Its Way Into Your Future

from NYTs To understand what’s at stake in the battle between Apple and the F.B.I. over cracking open a terrorist’s smartphone, it helps to be able to predict the future of the tech industry. For that, here’s one bet you’ll never lose money on: Digital technology always grows hungrier for more personal information, and we users nearly always accede to its demands. Today’s smartphones hold a lot of personal data — your correspondence, your photos, your location, your dignity. But tomorrow’s devices, many of which are already around in rudimentary forms, will hold a lot more. Consider all the technologies we think […]

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Apple’s FBI Battle is Complicated. Here’s What’s Really Going On.

From Wired The news this week that a magistrate ordered Apple to help the FBI hack an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooter suspects has polarized the nation—and also generated some misinformation. Those who support the government say Apple has cooperated in the past to unlock dozens of phones in other cases—so why can’t it help the FBI unlock this one? But this isn’t about unlocking a phone; rather, it’s about ordering Apple to create a new software tool to eliminate specific security protections the company built into its phone software to protect customer data. Opponents of […]

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Worldwide Encryption Products Survey

from Schneier on Security The findings of this survey identified 619 entities that sell encryption products. Of those 412, or two-thirds, are outside the U.S.-calling into question the efficacy of any US mandates forcing backdoors for law-enforcement access. It also showed that anyone who wants to avoid US surveillance has over 567 competing products to choose from. These foreign products offer a wide variety of secure applications­ — voice encryption, text message encryption, file encryption, network-traffic encryption, anonymous currency­ — providing the same levels of security as US products do today. More here.

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Liberal Arts Degree to Software Industry

from Medium Last week I was at Whitman College talking to students in the newly created computer science department about careers in the tech industry. Many students were interested in knowing what they could do while still in school to better prepare themselves for joining the industry. Having watched a lot of interns and new graduates get started with their software engineering careers at facebook, here are my suggestions to anyone who is interested in hitting the ground running when they first join the industry. I’ll throw in some extra notes at the end for folks coming from a non-traditional engineering background?—?i.e. […]

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Tim Cook Says Apple Will Fight Us Gov’t Over Court-Ordered Iphone Backdoor

from ars technica Apple chief Tim Cook has attacked the recent court order that compels Apple to unlock and decrypt the San Bernardino gunman’s iPhone. “Opposing this order is not something we take lightly. We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the US government,” says an open letter published by Cook early this morning. Late yesterday, a federal judge in California ordered Apple to help the US government (the FBI) unlock and decrypt the iPhone 5C belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook, who shot up an office party in San Bernardino in December 2015. In the past, […]

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This Crazy New 3D Bio-Printer Can Make Full Size Ear, Muscle, And Bone Tissues

from Yahoo Tech Do you hear what I hear? Because what I hear is the whizzing sound of medical progress at the hands of some pretty incredible 3D-printing breakthroughs. On Monday, researchers from the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine detailed how they managed to create a 3D bioprinter that is precise enough to actually manufacture replacement tissue capable of being used in transplant surgery. Body parts printed thus far include a jaw bone, muscle tissue, and cartilage structures, and perhaps most impressive of all, an incredibly accurate human ear. A decade in the making, the findings from a team led by […]

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“No Cost” License Plate Readers Are Turning Texas Police into Mobile Debt Collectors and Data Miners

from EFF Vigilant Solutions, one of the country’s largest brokers of vehicle surveillance technology, is offering a hell of a deal to law enforcement agencies in Texas: a whole suite of automated license plate reader (ALPR) equipment and access to the company’s massive databases and analytical tools—and it won’t cost the agency a dime. Even though the technology is marketed as budget neutral, that doesn’t mean no one has to pay. Instead, Texas police fund it by gouging people who have outstanding court fines and handing Vigilant all of the data they gather on drivers for nearly unlimited commercial use. […]

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Ignoring Cable Industry Protest, FCC Says It Will “Unlock the Set-top Box”

from ars technica Pay-TV providers would have to make video programming available to the makers of third-party devices and software under a proposal by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler. The FCC is planning for a software-based, cardless replacement for CableCard. Without needing a physical card that plugs into a third-party set-top box, consumers would be able to get TV channels on tablets, smart TVs, or set-top boxes that they can buy from other companies instead of renting a box from a cable company. “Consumers should be able to choose how they access the Multichannel Video Programming Distributor’s (MVPDs)—cable, satellite, or […]

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As More Pay by Smartphone, Banks Scramble to Keep Up

from NYTs Ryan Craine hates carrying cash and finds writing checks to be a headache. He doesn’t do much of either anymore — he mostly uses his smartphone to pay for things. Mr. Craine, a 28-year-old tech support worker in Washington, D.C., uses Apple Pay at the stores and restaurants that accept it. About 20 times a month, he turns to Venmo, a digital wallet for transferring money from one person to another, to pay his share of rent, meals, groceries and utility bills. To refinance his student loans last year, he went to an online lending start-up, Earnest. Mr. Craine’s money […]

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14 New York Tech Companies To Watch In 2016

from Forbes New York’s tech ecosystem is strengthening dramatically. In fact, after Silicon Valley, no other area has seen more early stage funding flowing to local startups. There have been many successful exits in 2015 as well. Some of the most impactful companies in ad tech, fintech, ed tech and other tech sectors call New York home today. Many of them have big plans for 2016, from listing on public stock exchanges to creating whole new product categories. Here are fifteen New York tech companies, ranging from small to large, to watch in the coming year. More here.

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No Business Too Small to Be Hacked

from NYTs Just as the holiday shopping season neared, a toy company, Rokenbok Education, was navigating a nightmare situation: Its database files had been infected by malware. Online criminals had encrypted company files, making them unusable, and were demanding a hefty ransom to unlock the data. Rokenbok, a California-based company that uses building blocks and even robotics to teach children how to think like engineers, lost thousands of dollars in sales in two days. Rokenbok’s founder and executive director, Paul Eichen, was already struggling to adapt his seven-employee company to a fast-changing toy world. Even worse, the malware attack was not […]

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Welcome To New York, Where Tech’s Not Just An Industry

from Medium Last night we hosted an event at our office in Union Square and I heard an SF-based product designer say seven words that encapsulate something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: “You’d never find this in the Valley”. The visitor from the Bay Area was referring to the diversity of people gathered together for a Wednesday night event that was, for all intents and purposes, a “tech party”. Yet it wasn’t just about “tech.” Paul Greenberg, Media Executive and investor in Human Ventures realized this when he observed, “Everyone I’ve introduced myself to tonight has such a […]

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First Known Hacker-Caused Power Outage Signals Troubling Escalation

from ars technica Highly destructive malware that infected at least three regional power authorities in Ukraine led to a power failure that left hundreds of thousands of homes without electricity last week, researchers said. The outage left about half of the homes in the Ivano-Frankivsk region of Ukraine without electricity, Ukrainian news service TSN reported in an article posted a day after the December 23 failure. The report went on to say that the outage was the result of malware that disconnected electrical substations. On Monday, researchers from security firm iSIGHT Partners said they had obtained samples of the malicious code […]

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After A Decade Of Waiting For Verizon, Town Builds Itself Gigabit Fiber For $75 Per Month

from techdirt Like many broadband black holes, Western Massachusetts has spent years asking regional duopolies for broadband. Towns like Leverett, Mass. literally took to hanging signs around town begging Verizon to install even the slowest DSL. Of course Verizon not only refused to install Western Massachusetts, they froze deployment of effectively all FiOS fiber upgrades, leaving a large number of towns and cities (including Boston, Baltimore, Alexandria, Buffalo) without next-gen broadband — or in some cases broadband at all.  But, unlike many areas, Western Massachusetts decided to do something about it. In 2012 Leverett voters approved borrowing $3.6 million — or roughly […]

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